Meet the duo behind the beauty brand building resilience and improving skin health

24 February 2022
By Hemma Vara

Can you build a daily resilience practice during the time it takes to wash your face? We talk to the co-founders of Iammi to find out more.

Lucinda East Kennedy and Mimi Gilmour Buckley.

Reminding herself to accept what she couldn’t change and focus only on what she could, the simple act of washing her face helped entrepreneur and Iammi co-founder Mimi Gilmour Buckley build her resilience.

While studying the brain to help her daughter Olympia who experienced a severe brain injury in utero, Gilmour Buckley began to understand why her skincare routine was having a powerful effect. As she explains, repetitive actions create new neural pathways, and sensory inputs like scent and texture help these pathways to develop quicker.

This led Gilmour Buckley to combine forces with her good friend and communications professional Lucinda (Lucy) East Kennedy to concept beauty brand Iammi. Going beyond the products, Iammi is also a mobile app that teaches resilience building through evidence-based habits — during the time spent washing your face. And not only this, the app is set to track skin health, energy levels, and offer access to a wider community.

Iammi’s debut range includes a number of balms, serums, a pimple potion and moisturiser, and Gilmour Buckley and East Kennedy have launched a Kickstarter campaign to get it off the ground.

Read on to discover what the duo have to say about building the brand, how building resilience has positively changed their lives, and why they are so passionate about the ethos behind Iammi.

Tell us a bit about yourselves. What inspires you, what you’re passionate about, and where we’ll find you on the weekend.  

Mimi: I’m passionate about businesses that make a difference to people’s everyday lives. If I’m not working on my businesses, then I’ll be doing my absolute favourite thing — hanging out with the people I love, in particular my children, Olympia and Octavia. 

Lucy: My main inspirations in life are my family and my friends, and they’re who my favourite weekend activities revolve around too. I’m also a big reader, so I get a lot of inspo that way. Like Mimi, I’m passionate about Iammi because it’s not an empty brand that’s sole purpose is to sell stuff; Iammi genuinely exists to help people build resilience and feel good. 

The resilience of Olympia and her progress with neurotherapy is the inspiration behind your latest venture, Iammi. Tell us what Olympia’s journey and resilience means to you. 

Mimi: It’s hard to put into words what Olympia’s journey means to me because becoming a mother – her mother – was the most life-changing thing that’s ever happened to me. She is the most resilient person I will ever know, and I am so grateful I get to be her Mama. With her health, it’s been so interesting to see the powerful synergy between cognitive, physical and spiritual development. We’ve brought all three into Iammi – the cognitive of the routine, the physical of the product application, and the spiritual of the mantra or practice. 

Lucy: With Olympia, it’s been incredible to witness the power of resilience in action. Mimi and her husband Stephen taught themselves how to cope early on, and in turn, they’ve been able to focus their energy on helping Olympia rather than worrying about what they can’t control. The doctors recently told them they’d loved Olympia to better health. Isn’t that just the most inspiring thing you’ve ever heard?! 

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Can you give us any examples of your resilience practice and how this has helped you?

Mimi: After Olympia was born, my skincare routine became my moment of peace where I reminded myself to stop worrying about the future, to let go of what I couldn’t control, and to only focus on how I could help Olympia. It was like a mantra I repeated every morning, and sure enough, it helped me learn to cope. I shared this technique with friends who were also going through hard times, and they found it incredibly helpful. 

Lucy: Iammi’s resilience practice is anchored by the mantra we’ve written, which has been inspired by Mimi’s story and director of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience, Dr. Lucy Hone’s, ‘three secrets of resilient people’. In short, these are understanding that bad stuff happens, choosing where your attention is focused, and questioning if your actions are helping or harming yourself.

Turning to the Iammi app, how does it work, and how will our mood, energy, and skin health benefit? 

Mimi: To start, the app will deliver a simple, easy practice to complete as you cleanse your face. We don’t want to give away all of our secrets too early, but we’re pretty excited about some of its other features too. Believe it or not, your skin health can change just as much as your energy levels, and the app will show how they’re interlinked.

Lucy: Ever notice how your skin can reflect your mood when you’re not feeling great? Or if your skin isn’t looking too healthy and all of a sudden, you feel less confident? The app’s purpose is to help you with your skin and mind to feel your best about both. 

Iammi Hero Cleansing Balm.
Iammi Olympia Glow Nourishing Serum.

Tell us about the debut Iammi skincare range. Why were these particular products chosen, and can you tell us a bit about their development? 

Mimi: From the very beginning, we knew we wanted to launch with a cleansing balm because that’s what I used when I first started my resilience practice. It’s such a tactile and sensory experience; the more sensory inputs you put into repeated actions, the faster the neuron pathways develop. We also always knew we needed a product inspired by Olympia’s glow, which shines so bright. Ever since she was born, people have told me they want her skin! One dollar from every Olympia Glow sold will be given to the Starship Foundation, our way of giving back to an organisation that has been such a massive source of support to my family.

Lucy: We then got overexcited and developed about fifty million products, but we’ve managed to strip it back to the essentials of a skincare routine for launch. 

We’ve heard you’re looking to launch a vitamin C serum — what else is in the pipeline?

Mimi: We ran our Vitamin C in a focus group last year and had the most epic feedback. I’m also completely obsessed with a few active products in the works. We’re also very excited about developing a special product to further support Starship. 

Lucy: We’re not stopping at skin care either! Look out for more categories. 

Tell us about the Iammi development team – Christine Hames, founder of Skincare of Allendale, Kate Michelmore of Skinography, and Dr. Robert Gilmour. What have you learnt from them? 

Mimi: Christine, Kate, and my dad are all brilliant. I’ve used them as personal skin advisors ever since Olympia was born; my skin deteriorated because I was in and out of hospital all the time. I was very stressed, which was reflected in my skin. They taught me what I needed to do to get my skin healthy again. They also taught me that there’s no shame in wanting your skin to look beautiful — own it! 

Lucy: Full credit to Mimi’s genius for creating this dream team. She knew from day one that magic would happen if we combined Christine and Robert and their incredible backgrounds in medicine and science with Kate’s holistic and beautifully natural approach. Mimi was right! 

Your products are made in New Zealand – why is this important for the Iaami brand? 

Mimi: It was important to us that our manufacturers were local for the integrity of the product. We worked closely with them to understand every aspect and ensure the best quality at all times. We also love the New Zealand spirit — it’s playful and doesn’t take itself too seriously, which aligns with how we see our brand. 

Lucy: Our formulas also draw on many native New Zealand ingredients, so it made sense to have the products made by chemists who know these ingredients better than anyone. 

Which beauty clothing, and lifestyle brands do you admire, and why?

Mimi: I am a huge fan of epic women running epic businesses, which is why I am obsessed with brands like Marle. If money were no object, I’d wear a lot of Toteme, Issey Miyake and Dries Van Noten. I love La Tribe for shoes. I also love brands with a strong point of view and creative vision, for example, new local drinks company Terry has just caught my attention, and I LOVE fun, playful and relatable brands like Almighty…and Burger Burger of course! 

Lucy: When it comes to what I wear, I’m obsessed with Harris Tapper for clothes and Bronwyn for shoes, and I also admire lots of other local brands like Paris Georgia, Marle, Wynn Hamlyn and Benjamin Alexander. Internationally, I like the ethos and vision of brands like Aimé Leon Dore and Madhappy. In the beauty and skincare world, I love it when an epic and purposeful brand identity meets best-in-game products, like Jenna Lyons’ new eyelash brand, LoveSeen.

What’s your advice to people who say they don’t have time to build a resilience practice or perhaps don’t think they need one?

Mimi: I didn’t know I needed a resilience routine either until I really needed it! And what I’ve learned is that resilience is a learned skill that we all need to know, because if we are alive, it means we’re going to go through some hard times. 

Lucy: We totally get that there’s a bit of fatigue around wellness conversations — like how many wellbeing apps do we have on our phone that we just don’t “have time” to use? With IAMMI, we’re repurposing time you already have. To start with, that’s the time you spend washing your face. We’re all about small habits that get big results.

For those considering donating to your Kickstarter campaign, tell us in a few words why they shouldn’t hesitate. 

Mimi: Because it’s your chance to get your hands on these amazing products for 30% off, plus join the Iammi community from the ground up. Let’s grow it together! 

Lucy: Because these are the best skincare products I’ve ever used. Because this app could make a really positive change in your life. And because we have a genuine mission – to help people learn resilience to live happier and healthier lives. 

Support Mimi and Lucy by checking out the Iammi Kickstarter campaign here

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